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Lumosity to Pay $2M Fine for Deceptive Ads on Brain Training Games

by Elmer Montejo on January 06, 2016

Strong brainThat its brain training program can sharpen your mental powers and slow down cognitive rot—this was the claim that the producer of Lumosity has been widely trumpeting through ads, and this was the same claim that cost the company millions of dollars in settlement for unfounded claims.

Lumos Labs, the creator of Lumosity, will be paying $2 million in redress after the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) complained about deceptive advertising. The proposed federal court order also imposes against Lumos Labs a $50 million judgment, but it will be deferred because of the 2-million fine that put the company under tight financial conditions. The FTC filed the complaint and proposed court order in the San Francisco Division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Part of the settlement also requires Lumos Labs to notify its customers about the FTC case and to set up convenient mechanisms for the customers to cancel auto-renewal of their subscriptions so that they won’t get billed in the future. The requirement covers all auto-renewing subscribers from January 1, 2009 up to December 31, 2014.

FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Jessica Rich said that Lumosity’s ads were predatory and took advantage of people’s fears about age-related mental deterioration. Further, Rich said that Lumosity’s claims remained unsupported by scientific data, prompting the FTC to compel Lumos Labs to back up its claims with scientific proof before advertising in the future about Lumosity’s supposed benefits.

Lumosity’s purported brain-improving program is made up of 40 games allegedly tailored to train specific brain areas. The games would allegedly improve one’s performance in daily life (e.g., school, work and athletics), slow down age-related cognitive decline and prevent mild cognitive anomalies (e.g., impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia), and lessen the cognitive impairment linked to certain health conditions (e.g., traumatic brain injury, stroke, ADHD, PTSD, chemotherapy side-effects and Turner syndrome).

Lumosity’s advertisements on different media (TV, radio and online) promised potential customers of achieving their “full potential in every aspect of life” by playing Lumosity games three to four times weekly for 10 to 15 minutes per session. Membership subscriptions for Lumosity’s online and mobile apps range from $14.95 (monthly) to $299.95 (lifetime).

Aside from Lumosity, there are other brain training apps that flex your mental muscles. For more about technology and the brain, read our story “Does Technology Make Us Smart or Dumb?

[Image credit: Strong brain via Shutterstock]


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